Left and Right Bank Bordeaux Wines Join Hands

A new association representing the Left Bank wines of Bordeaux has been created this month: Le Cercle Rive Gauche des Grand Vins. This is to be the sister organisation to Le Cercle Rive Droite which promotes the Right Bank wines and was founded in 2002 by Alain Raynaud.

Apparently the two groups will organise separate tastings but will travel together for overseas events including ones planned for this year in the USA and Asia. Both of these groups will be overseen the newly created Cercle des Grands Vins de Bordeaux which is intended to be a showcase for the wines.

The Bordeaux wine region is divided by the Gironde Estuary which is why we refer to Right and Left Bank wines. The appellations on the Left Bank are the home of the chateaux ranked in the 1855 Classification, such as Lafite, Latour, Margaux etc. Vineyards here tend to be fairly large with imposing chateaux.

The Right Bank chateaux weren’t included in the 1855 Classification – although Saint Emilion has its own classification which is revised about every 10 years. The vineyards on the Right Bank tend to be smaller and have a high percentage of Merlot.

You may be wondering why the Left Bank needs another promotional organisation given that the chateaux there are already represented by the Union of Grands Cru Classés (UGC).

The reasoning behind creating the Cercle Rive Gauche des Grands Vins is that it will encompass wines within the 10 – 30 euros price bracket whereas the UGC tends to represent the top flight chateaux whose wines are priced substantially higher. Alain Raynaud toldJane Anson at Decanter that:

This is absolutely not a move against the Union des Grands Crus . . . But they have done such a good job that many of their members have effectively become luxury goods, and are no longer affordable in all markets. This new group is filling a need for a new organisation able to market the more affordable quality estates on the Left Bank.’

The Cercle Rive Droite represents around 143 properties over 19 appellations:

Bordeaux / Bordeaux Supérieur
Entre Deux Mers
Sainte-Foy Bordeaux
Côtes de Bordeaux
Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux
Côtes de Bourg
Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux
Francs Côtes de Bordeaux
Lalande de Pomerol
Canon Fronsac
Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Montagne Saint Emilion
Lussac Saint Emilion
Puisseguin Saint Emilion

The new Cercle Rive Gauche has 29 founding members representing 32 properties in the following Left Bank appellations:

Haut Medoc
Saint Estephe
Saint Julien
Pessac Leognan

The founding president is Boutemy Francis of Chateau Haut Lagrange in Pessac Leognan and the Cercle Rive Gauche will be holding an inaugural En Primeur tasting at Chateau de Rochemorin 9 – 11th April.

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